6 Harmful Chemicals in Your Commercial All-Purpose Cleaner

All-Purpose Cleaner Chemicals

When we grab for our all-purpose cleaner to clean up a mess, most of us never consider that the chemicals in the spray may be causing more harm than good. Conventional all-purpose cleaners may get rid of the mess, but they leave behind toxic chemicals that are harmful to your health and the environment.

Conventional cleaners fail to get the job done without harm

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) routinely evaluates and rates cleaning products. Its analysis of hundreds of all-purpose cleaners found that more than 60 percent of them earn a D or F rating—yikes!

Cleaning product companies are not required to disclose the chemicals in their products because the government considers chemical compounds trade secrets. Some companies disclose a limited list of ingredients, while others make it impossible to find data on their products.

Six of the worst offenders

The EWG’s latest analysis found 75 percent of cleaning products contained chemicals that cause respiratory irritation and distress. All-purpose sprays were the major offenders of this group. Other products contained chemicals linked to cancer.

Here’s a list of the most common harmful chemicals in your conventional cleaning products.

Benzene Exposure to benzene can cause dizziness, irregular heartbeat, eye and skin irritation, and a decrease in red blood cells leading to anemia.
Disinfectants Ethanolamine and quaternary ammonium compounds are common disinfectants and can trigger and even cause new cases of asthma.
Formaldehyde A common chemical in cleaners and detergents, formaldehyde is linked to cancer, irritation of the eyes, nose, and skin, asthma, and COPD.
Fragrance Chemically, the word “fragrance” in an ingredient list can mean anything. Studies have linked fragrances to allergies, immune system effects, and respiratory irritation.
Solvents The solvent 2-butoxyethanol is an ingredient found in all-purpose sprays, including some “green” sprays, and can cause damage to red blood cells and eye irritation.
Surfactants Alcohol ethoxylate surfactants are banned in the EU for their poor health effects, but not in the United States.

 

A better choice for a greener clean

Fortunately, you have better options for an all-purpose cleaner. Environmentally friendly, all-natural sprays powerfully clean up your worst messes without hazardous chemicals. My Earth’s Natural All-Purpose Cleaner uses thymol and citric acid, two plant-derived, all-natural ingredients that will wipe out your mess without making you and your employees sick.

To learn more about the hazardous chemicals in your commercial cleaner or to switch to a greener clean, contact me today.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Sources:

EWG All-Purpose Cleaners

EWG Spring 2016 Update

Organic Authority

4 of Your Favorite Restaurant Cleaners Revealed … and 4 Healthier, Greener Cleaning Alternatives

Restaurant cleanersCleaning products touch every surface of your restaurant, including the plates, glasses, and flatware you serve food on. It’s important that the products you use don’t pose health hazards to you, your guests, and your employees.

We’ve been trained by the cleaning product industry that effective cleaning is only possible with harsh chemicals. It simply isn’t true. Many powerful commercial cleaning products on the market today are derived from natural ingredients. They’re also cost-effective. Here are four of your favorite restaurant cleaners and four healthier, greener alternatives to consider.

  1. All-Purpose Cleaner

Crumbs, spills, grime, dirt: Your all-purpose cleaner handles it all. But if there’s bleach in your cleaner, it could be doing more harm than good. Sodium hypochlorite is a popular form of bleach. It gets an F rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for its effects on human health and the environment. Sodium hypochlorite can trigger asthma in sensitive people and is highly irritating to the skin and eyes. It’s found in many products, including Lysol Professional All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach.

The active ingredients in natural all-purpose cleaners are derived from plants. Citric acid, for example, is derived from citrus fruits. Thymol, another disinfectant, comes from the thyme plant. Earth’s Natural All-Purpose Cleaner’s active ingredients are citric acid and thymol.

  1. Dishwashing Detergent

When you serve food, you get dirty dishes. Lots of them. They’re handled by your chefs, servers, guests, and dishwashers. With dishes passing through so many hands, it’s vitally important that your dishwashing detergent be effective and non-hazardous.

Antibacterial properties and a pleasing odor may be at the top of your list when shopping for dishwashing detergent. The popular antibacterial chemical, triclosan, is a known health and environmental hazard. It’s found in many dishwashing detergents, including Joy Ultra, which gets a D rating from EWG. Companies are not required to disclose the chemicals in their fragrances, many of which are harmful.

Not all effective detergents contain triclosan and other harmful chemicals, though. BioKleen Dish Liquid receives an A rating from EWG. Its all-natural ingredients pose a low health risk to humans and are easy on the environment, too.

  1. Floor & Surface Cleaner

Often, restaurants use separate, tough-acting cleaners to disinfect and sanitize floors and surfaces. Tough-acting is often marketing code for hazardous. Clorox Disinfecting Floor & Surface Cleaner’s known ingredients, for example, are both D-rated with EWG, giving the product a D rating overall. Both known ingredients cause respiratory irritation.

Healthy floor and surface cleaners contain natural—often plant-derived—ingredients to powerfully clean your floors and surfaces. Instead of Clorox, try Earth’s Natural All-Clean.

  1. Degreaser

Let’s face it—when you cook, things get greasy. Degreasers clean grill hoods, grease traps, and slimy, greasy areas around the stove and griddle with powerful solvents.

Conventional degreasers contain one or more hazardous chemicals. Despite its name, Simple Green Heavy Duty Cleaner and Degreaser isn’t so green. It gets an F rating from EWG, mostly due to the didecyldimethylammonium chloride, which causes moderate to severe skin irritation.

Fortunately, safe, natural ingredients can also powerfully dissolve grease and grime. Earth’s Natural Sewer Degreaser contains limonene, which naturally occurs in the rinds of citrus fruits.

You don’t need to bring out the haz-mat suits to effectively clean your restaurant. To learn more about your all-natural, healthy, and environmentally friendly options, contact me today.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Workplace Indoor Air Quality: Is It Time to Get Fresh at Work?

Are cleaning chemicals polluting the air at your workplace?With the high pollen count we Minnesotans are experiencing, outdoor air quality is likely at the top of your mind. Itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose are signs the air contains irritants. Many seasonal allergy sufferers find relief once they get inside.

But for many people, allergy symptoms arise once they walk through their workplace doors. The quality of indoor air can have similar and even more severe health effects than outdoor air.

An Urgent Environmental Risk

If you’re like most business owners, you spend at least 40 hours a week inside your office, studio, showroom, gym, and other workspace. That adds up to 2,000 hours a year—if you’re lucky enough to get two weeks of vacation.

With so many hours spent indoors at work, you want the air you breathe there to be healthy. But the EPA considers indoor air quality one of the “most urgent” risks to your health. Many factors contribute to the quality of the air inside a commercial building, including:

  • the general design and maintenance of the building
  • the maintenance of the HVAC system
  • poor quality of re-circulated air
  • the variety of activities that occur within the building
  • overcrowding
  • moisture
  • radon
  • outside air pollutants making their way inside
  • chemicals in conventional cleaning and disinfecting supplies, including aerosols

When just one of these factors reduces the quality of the air in your workplace, you can start to experience health effects. Symptoms of poor indoor air quality mimic those of the common cold, stress, flu, and allergies. The difference, however, is that the symptoms go away once you leave work.

Maintaining Good Indoor Air Quality

Unless you own your commercial building, improving some of these factors may be out of your hands. However, there are things you and your employees can do to ensure the air you all breathe is healthy. The first step is to test the air quality with a DIY testing kit. It will identify the pollutants in your air so you can make a plan to improve it.

If you’re using conventional commercial cleaning supplies, your air likely contains all the toxins and chemicals found in those cleaners. Simply replacing these cleaners with non-toxic, natural choices will eliminate these pollutants from your air.

If you feel sick every time you’re at the office, you’re not allergic to work. The quality of the air is affecting your health. To learn more about how to improve the quality of the air at your workplace, contact me today.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Ozone Pollution and Your Health

Ozone pollution and your health blog picIf you’re like me, you’ve heard conflicting things about ozone. Some scientists are concerned that the hole in the atmospheric layer of ozone will harm us, while others warn against the hazards of having too much ozone in the air closer to the Earth’s surface. Both groups of scientists are right: While high-altitude ozone provides benefits to us on Earth’s surface, ground-level ozone is harmful to our health. 

Atmospheric versus Ground-Level Ozone

Six to 30 miles above us in the atmosphere, there’s a layer of protective ozone. This “good” ozone shields us from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. It also helps regulate the temperature of the Earth it is habitable.

Though beneficial miles above the Earth, ozone becomes harmful when it exists closer to the ground. Ground-level ozone damages vegetation, including the crops humans rely on for sustenance, and causes a number of health effects in humans. The main ingredient in smog, ground-level ozone is one of the air pollutants measured in the EPA’s air quality index.

Ground-level ozone is created when chemical reactions between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides occur in sunlight. Nitrogen oxides and VOCs are found in the exhaust from vehicles on the road, industrial emissions, and chemical solvents.

Health Effects of Ground-Level Ozone

Ground-level ozone has a number of negative health effects for humans. All of them affect the respiratory system. Ground-level ozone can make breathing difficult, even for healthy people. It can cause irritation in the lining of your lungs and even reduce their ability to function.

Exposure to ground-level ozone can cause congestion, coughing, irritation of the throat, and chest pain. People with conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis experience more severe symptoms when they are exposed to ground-level ozone.

Often, when there are elevated levels of ground-level ozone, you’ll hear on the news that children should avoid playing outside. That’s because children are especially sensitive to the health effects of ground-level ozone due to their developing respiratory systems.

Preventing Ground-Level Ozone Health Effects

The easiest way to avoid the negative health effects of ground-level ozone is to avoid spending time outside on days when ozone levels are high. To reduce VOC and nitrogen oxide emissions, limit how much time your car sits idling and conserve energy when cooling and heating your home. During home-improvement projects, use low-VOC paints and dispose of them properly.

Don’t let ground-level ozone affect your health. Contact me to learn more about ozone pollution and how leading a chemical-free lifestyle can help.

Hoping you’re breathing easy and living life to the fullest,

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Toxic Cleaning Products Making You Sick?

Kindergarten teacher and children looking at globe in libraryRead about a 1st grade classroom going green!

What do many teachers and parents of elementary aged children complain about during the first few weeks of school in the fall? Often, after being healthy all summer, teachers and young kids catch the first colds of the school year. Mrs. C. was a first grade teacher at an elementary school in East-Central Wisconsin; in the fall of 2011, she commenced her final school year before retiring. Within a few months, she would convert her classroom over to green cleaning products. The results were amazing. I have attempted to capture her story in her own words as much as possible.

According to Mrs. C., “I started the conversion process strictly for personal reasons. I frequently have migraines, and the smell in the classroom would often seem to be a trigger. On many occasions, I would have nasal drip and feel as if I had a cold after being in my classroom for a while. In addition, my students would tell me that they had headaches and were feeling nauseated, or that the room just smelled bad. After considering the source of the bad smell, I made a decision. I banned the janitorial staff from bringing in any of the normal cleaning products that were being used throughout the rest of the school.

“I brought from home three cleaning products: an item called Sol U Mel (A multipurpose cleaner known for its deodorizing and cleaning power), Sol U Guard Botanical (a natural disinfectant) and Renew hand wash (A moisturizing hand wash that is not antibacterial). I used the Sol U Mel for cleaning any and all surfaces including the classroom sink. Also, we sprayed the natural-based disinfectant, Sol U Guard Botanical, on every single surface that was touched by the kids’ hands or mouths. This included door and sink handles, the pencil sharpener, the water fountain, the computer board and headphones, as well as the whisper phones. Last but not least, each time children left the classroom they washed their hands with the Renew hand wash upon reentering.” Before Mrs. C. brought in the natural cleaning products, it was pretty typical that each classroom teacher would have six to seven kids missing in any given day.

“By Christmas time the results were astonishing! My classroom had a zero truancy rate, which is when a child misses three days in a row. In addition, three-quarters of the students had not missed a single day; and on most days or weeks, I might have had only one child missing from school. Also–incredibly–I had not experienced a single migraine while at school. Better yet, the results continued throughout the year, making my last year teaching at this school a wonderful experience.”

Not only did these natural-based, green products improve the health of the entire class (and the teacher!), but they also were beneficial to the surfaces. It was common practice to use chlorine wipes continually to clean the tabletops in the classroom. Due to the harsh chemicals in the wipes, the laminate on the tables needed to be refinished every year. At the end of this year, however, Mrs. C’s tabletops were as good as new and could be used for another year.

Are you experiencing chemical sensitivity? Would you like to make your home, school or office a safer environment?

Want to know more?    I’d like to help you get started.

Hoping you’re breathing easy and living life to the fullest,

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance